Divorce records, just like marriage records, are publicly available. From the comfort of your home, you can search online for divorce records. You could also choose to visit the state’s Department of Health and Vital Records. No two divorces are the same nor the circumstances leading to a divorce. A Tacoma Divorce Attorney can make the process of attaining your divorce records easier by helping you understand your options.
Copies of Divorce Court Records
Divorce certificate copies are available at the Washington State Archives and the Washington Department of Health. For recent divorce certificates, the county clerk can be contacted.
Washington State Archives
Many county auditors submit divorce records to the Washington State Archives. Which are held at one of the five branches of the archives around the state. The Washington State has digitized many divorce records which can be viewed freely on the Washington State Digital Archives website.
WA Digital Archives has early divorce records listed in the Frontier Justice Index. Most county clerks also give copies of the divorce court records they hold to the Washington State Archives. In order to see if your divorce court records are at the State Archives, do a search on the search page.
Court Clerk’s Office
The Civil Court in which you filed your divorce preserves a copy of the divorce decree, both hardcopy and electronic. The state is required by the state law to keep the field decree for 7 to 10 years. After verifying the decree’s location through an online search, visit the Court clerk’s office. You will need to have the case number as well as the identification. In case you miss the case number, the clerk may search by an attorney(s), date, or judge of the case. If you are not a party of the divorce, the Court will require a signed affidavit from either of the parties. In order to grant permission to copy the document.
Washington Department of Health and Vital Records
If the Court clerk’s office no longer has the divorce Court records in custody, apply to the department of vital records. The department may have either in-person or email requests options in obtaining a copy of the divorce record. However, an official copy of the divorce decree may require you to pay a certain service fee.
Divorce Court Records under Seal
The Court does not file divorce records under seal. It is the obligation of the divorced parties to request for the court seal over the case. The judge then decides whether or not to grant a motion to seal. In making this decision, the Court weighs several issues. First, if the reason to seal is shallowly tailored. Second, if the party seeking privacy from public disclosure will sustain damages. And third, whether the presumption that the court records are open to public scrutiny will be violated.
Reasons for Sealing Divorce Court Records
Some common reasons for divorce filings under seal include:
- Protecting children from random identification in divorce records
- Protecting victims of domestic violence
- Securing sensitive information like bank account numbers and social security numbers
- Protecting proprietary business information
Other reasons such as exposure to embarrassing information may not cause the Court to seal the records from the public. Open records allow transparency into the Court proceedings.